Mayor vetoes protections for New York’s unemployed
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently vetoed a bill passed by the city council that would have offered protections to unemployed job seekers who are facing hiring discrimination based on their employment status. The city council has said that they intend to override the veto and enact the bill as a law in New York City.
While some employers have opposed the bill by arguing that hiring decisions are complex and that this type of law could give rise to frivolous lawsuits, hiring data shows that it is in fact much harder for people without jobs to reenter the workforce.
Some job seekers have reported being told specifically that they were not being considered for a position simply because they had been out of work for an extended period of time. In some cases, the timeframe can be as short as three months. For people who have experienced this type of discrimination first hand, a typical gut reaction is to think that it cannot possibly be legal not to hire someone because they don’t already have a job. The truth is that employment laws in New York state protect people from discrimination based on specific categories like national origin, gender, and race. In general, arbitrary hiring and firing is perfectly legal, particularly in an at-will employment state like New York.
When he issued the veto for this law, Mayor Bloomberg said that while summarily refusing to hire someone because they are currently unemployed seems unfair, a prospective employees employment status and history could be legitimately relevant in many situations, particularly when an employee left their last job as a result of a performance problem or misconduct.
What do you think – will this bill help New York job seekers? Or will it be too difficult for employers to comply with?
Source: Associated Press, “Bloomberg Vetoes NY Jobless Discrimination Bill; City Council Vows to Override,” Jennifer Peltz, Feb. 22, 2013.
Information about illegal workplace discrimination is available on our New York employment law site.